We had found an opportunity to connect alcohol distributors' marketing teams to retailers and shoppers in off-premise locations (eg. liquor stores) by creating interactive advertisement kiosks. We knew there was a clear ROI for brands but we were unsure what value proposition would be most ideal for retailers and shoppers alike.
Because the first version of this product is still in development, I am unable to state certain information in this case study; however, I will explain the process that I took and how that led to the suggestions and product decisions currently in progress.
[To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of Soda Labs.]
Jan. 2019 - July 2019
Company + Stakeholders
CEO/Business Dev/Sales, Operations Lead, Head of Product, 3 Engineers, UX Design Intern, 2 UI Designers
How might we improve the shopping experience for shoppers in liquor stores?
How might we bring value to Retailers So that they can differentiate themselves from Competitors?
Because we didn't have a Product Manager (PM) during my time at Soda Labs, I took on some of the PM responsibilities and wrote Version 1 of our Product Requirements Document (PRD) with help from my CEO.
Research & Design
We went through a thorough process of research (eg. surveys, interviews, and cold calls) to design exercises (eg. feature prioritization brainstorm, user journeys, wireframes, and testing)
I hired and managed a UX design intern for the first time! I designed and strategized on the program itself and the recruitment and hiring process. HR and Recruiters are amazing!
Project S is an in-store platform designed to give customers the best shopping experience.
digital kiosk hardware + bespoke content
Software platform to help you curate and manage content on numerous devices
We can help you gather data on the effectiveness of ads and help install and upload campaigns through our custom player application that can properly manage and display the content.
Learn more about products before your point of purchase
Don't have a specific product mind? Can't make up your mind what cocktail would work best with your price point? We'll help you quickly and easily find the right product within your budget, occasion, and taste preferences.
Pairings and Recipes
Inspiration for shoppers on how to enjoy products by pairing them with food ideas. They can tap in for more information like how-to video content and recipe instructions. If a user taps "Send me this recipe", they have the option to receive a text message.
Searchable product pages that provides the information shoppers want to know about most when it comes to selecting products.
Main platform that combines both branded content with helpful tips, guides and games for users to stay entertained and informed based on their personal interests.
Recommendations, Lists, Lifestyle
The solution for those who aren't sure what to get. Display interactive recommendations based on taste or occasion to help shoppers make a purchase decision.
I wrote Version 1 of the Product Requirements Document (PRD) at the same time when I had just started researching; therefore, a significant portion of the research findings weren't yet implemented into the initial document.
[For more info on the contents and creation of the PRD, please contact me.]
Gathered context, background, stakeholders, and did market research. Performed end-user research.
[Button skips to Design Section below]
MVP Planning: Milestones,
MVP, & Launch Date
Pending: Shipped to Beta Customers + Testing
RESEARCH & DESIGN
User Research Plan
I led the team to create a UX Plan that would help break down the questions and assumptions we needed to confirm through research.
Goal 1: Identify and define personas, pain points, + content preference for shoppers.
Goal 2: Identify + define personas, pain points, + Value propositions for Retailers (ie. store owners + staff).
Who are the major user personas?
What pain points do they currently have when it comes to driving more sales?
How can we make the strongest case to retailers that our kiosk brings substantial value to their business?
What ads do they currently have in the stores? How successful have these ads been?
Who are the major user personas?
How does each user persona differ from one another based on pain points and buying behavior during the shopping process?
What type of content is most compelling and drives the most engagement for each user persona?
Which user persona(s) should we prioritize based on the level of engagement?
We looked at online trends in the market to learn more about the shopper's perspective. We found that:
Most wine and liquor buyers don't look for deals. Brand awareness is weak. However for craft beers, branding and packaging drives the purchasing decision.
Millennials prefer high quality products over price. They are more selective and willing to try new things compared to Baby Boomers.
Majority of Millennials don't have a specific brand in mind (no impulse shopping).
Wine shoppers are willing to try new wines.
The main drive post-Secondary Research was on verifying which values truly resonated with shoppers for each type of drink. We also decided to focus on the fact that Millennials usually do not know which specific product to purchase when entering a liquor store.
Wide Scope Survey
We decided to conduct a survey to confirm the main pain points of shoppers, narrow down the identity and characteristics of our target market, and figure out specific experiences we can improve for in-store purchases. We received over 100 responses in less than 5 days.
Survey (through Google)
Detailed Documentation on Goals
Because retailers and shoppers were two very different user groups, we had to take different approaches in how we interviewed them. One of our challenges was having to manually find contacts online. We eventually collected over 300 cleaned online retailer contacts.
Created Email Templates
I synthesized the data we were receiving from retailers and shoppers and organized the information into diagrams that helped us have a better visual understanding on various themes, flows, and data points that were consistently coming up from our users.
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Findings to Design Decisions
There are too many products in limited store space which makes it difficult for shoppers to know where products are located
Marketing is nonexistent in mom+pop liquor stores, making it hard for smaller retailers to accurately connect and communicate with shoppers
Most shoppers aren't completely sure what to purchase when they enter liquor stores and feel overwhelmed from decision fatigue
"IDK" Izzy doesn't know what she wants. She's unfamiliar with alcohol and doesn't buy often. She's only familiar with a few popular brands. She's not picky when it comes to alcohol and normally purchases it for specific events and occasions (eg. potluck, holiday party, date night).
Easy, quick to learn about trends, tastes, and major product information
Access to credible alcohol product reviews
Guidance on the right occasion, taste preference and price
Wants to purchase alcohol that fits the occasion
Stay within budget
Wants to receive social approval on her purchasing decisions
"I don't know which drink I want to buy!"
Willingness to Explore
Loyalty to Brands
Enters store needing to buy something for friend's 23rd birthday party
I think most people like beer...maybe I'll just get that then.
Oh, the packaging for that beer pack looks cool. Seems hip and trendy.
Hm... compared to the other beer products, price is average. Sounds reasonable.
Time to buy! Hope my friends like this although I have no idea what it tastes like.
Purchasing Thought Process
We refined the original end-user persona we had to the following. We narrowed down our target market to solely be within Millennials to help refine our design concepts at a more effective level.
Based on the evidence we collected from user research, we conducted multiple brainstorming sessions before going through prioritization exercises to narrow down which ad content concepts would align with potential end-user value and business impact.
EVERGREEN UTILITY FEATURES
PRODUCT SHOWCASE PAGE
BRANDED ROTATIONAL ADS
I led our team's efforts in testing our hi-fidelity prototypes (that we created based on our top 10 ad concepts) at a local liquor store. The best method was to go through each screen asking users for how the content made them feel, if it interested them (would they tap on it) and why, and what they thought we be of most use to them.
Hypotheses from User Feedback
Context: All interviews were conducted right after purchase. We conducted interviews with 7 shoppers so findings are based on a very limited range of data. The location of the liquor store is also more for local residents who have close, familiar relationships with store employees. We interviewed on a Friday 4-6pm and Saturday 10-11pm. The overall demographics of the shoppers interviewed may not hit our original target market towards Millennials who don't know what to purchase.
Grab + Go Mentality
Time and price are the most common and important factors that motivates (or demotivates) a shopper to interact with our screens as they prefer to spend short amounts of time in the liquor store.
It's all in the looks
personalizing is a Balancing act
retention through trust
The team is trying to figure out what are the best ways of combining both permanent utility features with the temporary rotational ads into a home platform layout.
This project gave me the opportunity to experience the whole product development process with the added responsibility of managing an intern. There were many highs and lows but I strongly believe that the failures and achievements from this project has transformed me to become a designer with a much better acumen in visual design, a start up teammate who understands how to test products and prototypes quickly and with limited resources, and a leader who knows the crucial respect and time that needs to go into planning when it comes to being a manager.
To be an effective designer, be realistic.
I learned and grew the most when it came to the actual research and design portion of this project. I mastered the art of planning, conducting, and leading research exercises but also realized that I needed to be more aware of constraints that could weaken and destabilize my research and planning strategy. I now have a better awareness on how to conduct scrappy research methods for lower budget projects and how to be more realistic on planning and scheduling research to insights.
To be a good leader, you need to be honest about your weaknesses
All the components of product management allowed me to confront my own flaws as a teammate, teaching me the importance of being aware of my own flaws/potential pitfalls and more importantly, being honest about these vulnerabilities with the team. Now I can predict much better when I may have moments of less drive and motivation because I better understand myself.
Creating an internship program is a job in itself
I took this on as a design assignment in itself, researching and interviewing students to understand what they valued most in an internship, analyzing competitors' job postings and internship programs, and developing my own strategy for hiring, interviewing, and managing an intern. The whole process was extremely fulfilling and made me have a new level of appreciation and respect for recruiters and HR teams.